Immediately the jovial atmosphere created by Chrissy’s amusing inquisition was shattered by the clunk of the door as it swung shut, cutting off Cat’s blood flow in the process and sapping all the oxygen out of the room. Tony backed up against the wall, obviously flustered with the morning’s antics until he noticed Cat watching him. She had truly believed that the compromising flirtation before Vince’s intrusion had passed, hoped it was something to be laughed off and forgotten. Tony’s expression suggested something entirely different.
For the second time today she was struggling to breath. The already small office seemed to be shrinking around her. Her mind raced. Had she suddenly developed claustrophobia for no apparent reason? Only there was a reason. A perfectly good, and equally bad reason: it had just burst into the office, angry and frustrated.
Her desperation not to giggle at his scarlet flushed cheeks was almost unbearable. She wanted laughter’s sweet relief, wanted to brush the last twenty minutes away under a blanket of chuckles and forget all about the ever-growing tension in the room. Tony glared at her but she didn’t sense anger. It was something else; something she couldn’t put her finger on.
Someone needed to say something, anything. Before she had the chance to think up a decent tension breaker, Tony was already coming her way, manoeuvring around the desk. Was it frustration, pure testosterone or something else driving his advances? Fuck, what was he doing?! Cat’s heart waspalpitating now which didn’t help her newfound claustrophobia. For a fleeting moment she considered that it could be the menopause making a sudden strike and almost prayed that it was; she couldn’t bare the thought of these hot flushes and explosive hormones having anything to do with this arrogant, undeserving, married prick.
And now he stood towering over her, inches away, fixed and predatory. She was frozen, caught in the gaze of those dark, sultry, shamefully wanting eyes. The heat rose in her cheeks, uncontrollably. Her lip stung; she hadn’t realised that she’d been biting it hard, transfixed and waiting for Tony’s next move. She could no longer deny the desire, the ache growing between her thighs. And still he stared her down, motionless. Please, God, let this be menopause!
Her eyes swept across his body, the thought of his beautiful torso corrupting her senses; his earlier, playful grin now replaced with something more hungry. She prayed he wouldn’t get any closer. Yet, with each passing second his power over her grew until she found herself praying that he would get closer, that he’d take hold of her, sweeping her desk clear of discarded stationary, giving her room to perch so she could wrap her legs around him as they embraced. She prayed for something deeply passionate and immoral. She craved it.
Her moral compass spun rapidly but despite the overwhelming temptation, she couldn’t
allow it. It felt like an eternity since the bloody door had closed.
Like his grin, Tony’s surprise at her unintentional advances only minutes ago was substituted for a masculine determination. His gaze oozed of suggestion but he was clearly conflicted himself. He wouldn’t really go through with it, would he? Here? In their office? Now? Where had this sudden change come from? Earlier they were playing, yes; flirting, absolutely; teasing, for sure. But nothing could ever happen between them. That would be so wrong. So gloriously wrong. So wrong it was making her wet trying not to think about it. Shit, she wanted him to kiss her. Her inner turmoil and undeniable longing was making her dizzy and she was still no closer to knowing what the fuck was actually happening. Should she slap him? Would that only stoke his coals? Should she kiss him? Just a little kiss, just enough to quench her thirsty curiosity—and then slap him?
Her eyes continued scanning his body, scrolling over his chest, neck, chin and beckoning lips before finally resting on those lashing, brooding, hypnotic eyes. And still he didn’t budge. What had come over him in the eighteen seconds that had passed since the door had closed? Cat had expected an angry Tony, reeling from his braindead chit chat with Vin and Chrissy. She was prepared for a self-assured, piss-taking Tony, wanting to reinforce his superior intellect regarding dolphins and mermaids. She had hoped for him, her friend, to simply laugh off the morning’s mind-numbing antics and somehow rationalise his behaviour over the last few months.
Instead, she found herself suddenly confronted with a man her loins longed for; a confident, solid, towering statue of a man whose intentions were as perplexing as they were thrilling. There was no hope of Vince saving her this time, no hope at all. Tony had sent him to clean up his room like a berated child. No heroic, stupid Vince. No one to hear her scream. By God, she wanted to scream. Her shallow breaths matched the motionless man’s as the pair stood awaiting some kind of divine intervention.
She encouraged words to come but they’d lodged themselves in her throat. The slightest quiver of her lips as she tried seemed enough to break the spell though. He moved towards her with slow assertion. He looked starved, ready to devour his feast, his intentions finally clear; the tip of his tongue glossing his lips in preparation for the ensuing malevolence.
In that moment, Cat knew that if his lips brushed hers she wouldn’t stop him. In that instant she wanted nothing more than to glisten them with her own soft tongue. His mouth was close enough to taste his breath. His hand moved to steady himself on the desk as he brought himself even closer. She couldn’t endure another tentatively excruciating second of waiting and leaned in towards him, closing her eyes in desperate anticipation. And…
Cat’s lids fluttered open. Tony was no longer looking at her. Instead, his mouth hovered, mere inches away. Lips tight, face screwed up in angst. His head shook in defiance, eyes shut tight. When he opened them again, they’d shifted from Cat to the desk beside her where they remained fixed for a while. Tony thumped the desk with an almost terrifying crash. He was obviously flustered. A second later he had something clutched in his hand.
“M-my… my shirt,” he stammered. “I… left it on your desk.”
Cat’s eyes focused on the hand. Scrunched in a ball was the soiled, coffee-drenched rag that was once his nice, clean shirt.
“I just… came to get my shirt,” he said with sheepish defeat. With that, he turned his back, face buried in his palm and walked away.
What the fuck? What the actual fuck?! She wanted to cry. She wanted to scream and slap him—slap him for real this time, not because he wasn’t behaving himself but because he was. She wanted him with every ounce of her aching flesh now. With knickers on fire and loins throbbing, she wanted him desperately. After everything Cat had told herself, all her rationalising, even the weird willingness for menopause, she wanted to be kissed. The reality of the situation hit her: it wasn’t her that had the strength and sense to pull away. It was him. She had been left wanting and deeply confused.
Tony sat down at his desk, hidden from view behind the monitor. She was grateful for it; glad he couldn’t see the tears now stinging her eyes. His hammering away at the keyboard like nothing had happened was whirling her emotions into a frenzy. The frantic, angry tapping was too much to bare, confined as they both were in that suffocating room. She needed a distraction, something to drone out the noise of the last minute now playing on loop in her brain. Reaching for her phone, lost in thought and in dire need of support, she messaged Jay,
Cat: Shit Day. Totally shit day…
Nothing. No blue ticks. Only a solitary grey one. Not even the message could seem to escape the room. Fuck it. Her next attempt was to Nick. Perhaps Nick could distract her. The rules of dating didn’t concern her right now. She didn’t care that the last message in their thread had been hers. She simply needed something or someone to occupy her headspace.
Cat: So now you’ve seen my uber sexy underwear when we going out?
This time the message had connected; two grey ticks. But they remained grey. As Cat’s desperate search for distraction grew, awareness of the room’s intensity grew with it, the silence so loud it was screaming at her. She couldn’t think straight, consumed as she was with frustrated humiliation. Her fingers continued fiddling with the phone when Tony broke through the deafening quiet.
“Catherine,” he began, as if he was about to offer her the sincerest of apologies which would certainly have eased her plight. “Haven’t you got anything better to do than fuck about with your phone?”
Ouch! His words stung like an open wound doused in vinegar and tabasco sauce. ‘Catherine’? He had never called her that before, never been so rudely formal. Was he really choosing to scold her right now? In their four years of friendship he had never scolded her for anything. Never had his words been so White Walker ice cold. He even used that tone he saves for people he considered inferior. It was just too much; the proverbial straw had broken this very sad and completely gutted camel, legs akimbo, praying for death. She couldn’t dam the silent tears and had to escape. She was wounded, dumbstruck and utterly annihilated. She hated him. And she hated herself even more.
She sprang from her seat, sniffling, making a beeline for the door. Tony looked at her briefly as she went, clearly seeing her red face and puffy eyes. A knowing flush of realisation washed over him accompanied by instant regret for his thoughtlessness. With a pained and remorseful look, he finally offered that apology as she hurtled to the exit, though it was truly pathetic and feeble.
“Cat, hun… look, I’m really… I’m sorry.” But it was too late. She was gone.
Enjoyed this chapter and want to catch up with the story so far Adventures with Cat